Knitting in the Fall: Bedford Redux



Pattern:   Bedford by Michele Wang, from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2011

Yarn:  About 10 years ago I went to a wool market and got sucked into buying this hand-dyed silk and kid mohair yarn. The yarn was absolutely gorgeous, and I had visions of knitting something luxuriously fabulous with it.  It didn’t matter at the time that I really dislike mohair.  I really thought if I had just the right project, I would LOVE mohair.  It never happened.  The yarn became three different sweaters, and this is the fourth and final incarnation, because of course mohair should not be frogged, ever, let alone three times.

Modifications:  This is the second version of Bedford; I didn’t wear the first version  because while there wasn’t anything wrong with it, it was just a tad too thin to wear a shirt underneath.  And at some point I needed the yarn for a new version of Bryn Mawr dress . . . .  For this Bedford, I knitted the raglan two stitches wide instead of four, made the body longer and the sleeves shorter.

Thoughts:  For such a detailed (over-written, as I think BT patterns tend to be), the directions for the neck shaping doesn’t work.  It is a good thing that I haven’t followed neck or sleeve instructions — for ANY pattern — for at least a couple of decades, mainly because I am a small woman and I routinely modify patterns to suit my dimensions and preferences.  But back to the instructions:  Michele Wang really should have done a better editing job with the directions for neck shaping.  Her buyers, and Brooklyn Tweed  fans in general, deserve better.

As for the finished sweater . . . .  I don’t love variegated yarn, I don’t love mohair, so I am pretty sure I will not be wearing this top much.  On the other hand, I do like how the sleeves turned out:  even though I also don’t like reverse stocking stitch in general, the purl fabric works well for this variegated yarn.  Maybe some day, someone will see me wearing this sweater and love it so much that I will just give it to her!

Knitting for the Winter: Koto



Pattern:  Koto, by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, available from

Yarn:  Umpteenth recycling of a worsted weight yarn from Beaverslide yarn.  Each time I reuse this yarn I tell myself it is the final incarnation.  Maybe.

Modifications:  I reduced the number of stitches — who can actually carry off a size small at 45″?  As it is, it is still a tad too big and the sleeves too long, so there is that Michelin Man thing going with the sleeves.  If I were more industrious, I would unravel the sleeves (which I was clever enough to pick up and knit downward from the top) and make them an inch shorter, but that probably isn’t going to happen

I also used my usual tried-and-true method of short row wraps.  I tried out the “shadow wrap method,” and while I understand the idea behind it and its application in sock knitting, I think it is overkill for this particular pattern.  Perhaps if I had used a smooth yarn, the shadow wrap method would have been more appropriate.  The Beaverslide yarn I used is rustic with a certain amount of thick-and-thin, and the shadow wrap did not produce a particularly neat finish.

Thoughts:  This was an interesting knit: I love the construction and the cool retro-future feel of the finished sweater.  I also liked the fact that the name of the pullover actually makes sense: I see the Japanese-inspired simplicity and elegance of shape, and of course I see the strings of the koto in the articulated ribbing design.  One of my pet peeves is the randomness of names assigned to patterns; I want to see a connection, I want to see the inspiration.  I recently came across a series of patterns from Carol Feller named after the seven hills of Rome.  I did my best, but I just could not see the connection between names and designs, although I appreciated the fact that she at least went for a Latin rather than yet another Gaelic word.

As with many recent patterns, I think Koto was over-written.  This may be good for novice knitters, but it was surprisingly irritating for old hands.  And while I am being grumpy . . . .  If you (that would be you, the designer) know that what you are calling the Joinery Bind Off is in fact “commonly known as the ‘Three Needle Bind Off,'” then why not just call it that?

All complaints aside, Koto is a wonderful design, and if a friend wanted one for herself, I would be happy to knit it again.

Knitting in the Summer: Paula


Pattern: Paula, by Fiona Ellis, from Twist Collective.

Yarn: Classic Elite Renaissance, a worsted weight, 100% wool yarn in color “lime infusion.”  A sturdy yarn with good stitch definition, and surprisingly, soft enough for next-to-skin wear.  Too bad it has been discontinued.

Modifications: Knitted the smallest size and ended up with finished bust measurement of 34″.  Sleeves were knitted in from top down and the caps shaped using short rows.

Thoughts: It is a well-written pattern, and the ridge stitch —  as well as the sleeve treatment — makes for an interesting sweater.  I also like the neckband construction; who would have thought stockinette stitch strong enough to support the cable portion of the collar!  Only quibble is with the circumference of the lower sleeves — too wide for my taste, but I appreciate the design details.

Henry James quote of the day, from “The Lesson of the Master,” 1892 :

It’s a great thing to have a wife who proves to one all the things one can do without.  One might never find them out for oneself.